The Katharine Hepburn Medal, to be awarded annually, recognizes women whose lives, work and contributions embody the intelligence, drive and independence of the four-time-Oscar-winning actress. The first two medals in the series will be awarded at the launch of the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, to screen legend Lauren Bacall and celebrated actress-environmentalist Blythe Danner.
A celebrated star of the stage and screen, Lauren Bacall was named among the top 20 female film legends of the 20th century by the American Film Institute. Her early films with Humphrey Bogart, including To Have and to Have Not, Key Largo and The Big Sleep, have been characterized as "classic pictures that embody '40s Hollywood." Other favorites include Young Man with a Horn, Confidential Agent, Written on the Wind, Blood Alley, How to Marry a Millionaire, Harper , Sex and the Single Girl , The Shootist , The Fan, and Murder on the Orient Express. Long known for turning down scripts that she didn't find interesting, Bacall became a highly visible advocate of better roles for mature women in the 1960s and '70s, when she returned, to much acclaim, to the stage. Bacall met Hepburn during the filming of The African Queen, in which Hepburn co-starred with Bogart, who was Bacall's husband. The encounter, detailed by Hepburn in her 1987 book The Making of The African Queen, or, How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost my Mind, led to a lifelong friendship between the two actresses, despite the difference in their ages. After Hepburn's death in 2003, Bacall wrote of her, "She unknowingly made me aware of ways to live and to behave that were new to me. So although there is a large, empty space in my life without her, there is all that past to remember." Among Bacall's numerous awards and honors are two Tonys and the National Book Award, for her best-selling autobiography By Myself. In 1997, she received the Kennedy Center Honors in recognition of her lifetime achievements in the performing arts.
A prolific, Tony- and Emmy-winning actress who has appeared in numerous stage, screen and film roles, Blythe Danner was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Rosemont down the street from Bryn Mawr. She attended George School in Newtown, Pa. and graduated from Bard College. Danner won a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in Butterflies Are Free. She has received nominations for her roles in Harold Pinter's Betrayal, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Stephen Sondheim's Follies. For more than 20 years she has appeared at the Williamstown Theater Festival. She was delighted to follow Katharine Hepburn’s footsteps in ABC’s Adam’s Rib, Lincoln Center’s The Philadelphia Story and the Williamstown production of Holiday. Her film work includes Lovin’ Molly, The Great Santini and 1776 as well as Anne Tyler’s Saint Maybe and Back When We Were Grownups. She appeared in three Woody Allen films, Another Woman, Alice and Husbands and Wives. More recent roles include Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and Sylvia with her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow. She will soon be seen in The Last Kiss with Zach Braff. In 2005 she was nominated for three Emmy Awards for her work on Will and Grace, Huff and Back When We Were Grownups, winning the Emmy for her role of Izzy in Showtime’s Huff. Danner has received two nominations for the 2006 Emmy Awards. A passionate environmental advocate, Danner sits on several environmental advisory boards and holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Williams College, Hobart/William Smith and her alma mater, Bard.